So days one and two were pretty much travel days so I figured they’d be easiest to just pair together. I have to preface this strain of posts that will be coming out over the next few days to journal our trip with this…this was one of the best experiences of my life. Period. I don’t write well, by any means, but I hope these posts help give you a taste of what we experienced on this trip, giving you an appetite for experiencing it for yourself one day.
A big thanks goes out to those of you who followed along via our social media outlets and through the hashtag #tltffbeaverisland14 we used to timeline and manifest the trip. An even bigger thanks goes out to Evan from Feather-Craft and CarpTrip.com for helping us get our ducks in a row and guiding us through the hosting process and Kevin Morlock, Steve Martinez, and Austin Adduci of Indigo Guide Service for giving us all a trip to remember forever and pass on stories of to our grandchildren. Thank you Bill and Tammy for opening up The Fisherman’s House to us pilgrims and for making it so special, something that ties the entire trip together. Thank you to the people of Beaver Island for being so welcoming to us fisherman’s antics and appreciating our overall love for what your home has to offer. Last but not least, thank you Austin Green for photographing and filming the trip, without you this trip would have been missing a certain little something…I hope all of our readers enjoy your images as much as we enjoyed your company.
Luis and I started to plan this hosted trip right after Luis returned from his trip last year and Evan from Feather-Craft and CarpTrip.com asked him if he would be interested in hosting a trip himself. After a few conversations and debates, the decision was made and it was time to put together logistics. Luis handled about 90% of it and deserves a large pat on the back for his planning genius (he does doit for a living though so there really was no better man for the job). Mario Garza, a long-time follower of the blog and one of our favorite fly tiers, was our first angler. It was all coming together. Two more anglers, Joel and Cheryl signed on filling two more spots and leaving one more to fill. We got into the 30 day countdown and there was still one spot left to fill and a lot of fine-tuning to do.
Austin Green of Austin Green Photography and The Uncommon Angler hopped on board as our last angler and a big weight was lifted off our shoulders. Over the course of a few more meetings and phone calls, planning was complete. June 19th couldn’t have come soon enough as a long week of work seemed to be stuck on slow-mo speed. Launch day finally came and the car was packed.
Day 1 – June 19th
I picked up Luis around 10am and we headed up to Baltimore to pick up Austin. We quickly loaded up the car at Austin’s place and started the 7 hour trek to Lorain, OH (right outside of Cleveland) where we would split the trip in half and spend the night with Luis’ family. The trip up to Ohio flew by. With only two stops, one for gas and food and one to stretch…um, pee. We arrived in Lorain around 6pm and were greeted by the best Puerto Rican food you could imagine (ask Austin, he had like 7 helpings). With bedrooms arranged and micro-brews in hand, it was time to sit back, talk fishing, and catch up with Luis’ family. We had a blast hanging out, relaxing, and thinking about what would be in store for the remainder of the trip. There was a big hex hatch going off while we were in Lorain, coming off of Lake Erie which was only a mile or so away from where we were staying. Of course us fly fisherman had to take a look and practice a little bit of beer-influenced entomology.
One thing we kept our eye on was weather. Since Great Lakes weather is so unpredictable, it was a crap shoot judging what would happen but the 7 day forecast for Beaver Island basically said 68 deg F with 5kts of wind and partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms every day…not ideal. We had our hopes up and looked forward with a great attitude. Overall, it was a pretty easy day with a great ending full of good food, good beer, and family.
Day 2 – June 20th
We woke up early with smiles on our faces knowing today would be the day we step foot on Beaver Island. Luis punched out some work early before we hit the road, dismissing some stress prior to the second leg of our trip to Beaver Island, another 7 hours. We hit the road and headed to Ann Arbor, MI to meet up with Mario. The 2.5 hours to Ann Arbor flew by, yet again. Mario was smiling ear toy ear as were we. We hit up the Walmart down the street to pick up odds and ends and some lunch. Thanks to Luis, I experienced my first White Castle burger and all I have to say is, why in the world aren’t there any of those around here in Maryland?!
Austin jumped in to Mario’s car to give him someone to chat with for the next couple of hours and to allow them to get to know each other a little more. With only a few stops, minor traffic, and a gnarly rainstorm…Charlevoix (where the airport was to get over to BI) was in sight…an super easy drive and second leg of the trek (sense a theme here?). The clouds parted as we drove into Charlevoix. We stopped one last time to grab some cash out of the ATM (since the one at Walmart was busted) and bug spray (which would prove to be a crucial addition to the packing list, ask Mario).
We rolled up to Fresh Air around 4pm, just in time for our 4:30pm flight. Cody checked us in and loaded up our bags. I unfortunately had the heaviest load (I also had a 22lb tent with us) and we were all over the 30lb limit. The load being so heavy, we had to send a few bags to go with the later plane.
The flight was an easy 15 minute jump over to Beaver Island and the flight in was amazing. The clouds had opened up and gave us an amazing look at what can only be described as the Caribbean in the middle of Lake MI. Prior to landing, we spotted somewhere around 20 carp cruising the flats on the East side of the island…just what we wanted to see. Flying over Beaver you can’t help but notice the vast amount of woods and swamp land. There are a few ponds on Beaver Island that are said to be loaded with pike. And yes, there are a lot of beavers on Beaver Island…
We unloaded the plane and immediately realized we needed to find the bug spray. The mosquitos were the size of the carp we were planning on catching…triple the size of the ones we had at home. But their size was against them as they flew as slow as molasses. The later plane landed and we grabbed our other bags. We loaded up the island shuttle, a short 5-10 minute ride in to town and to The Fisherman’s House was full of excitement and was the cheapest taxi ride ever…$1.50.
We drove into town as two of the Indigo boats were flying into the harbor…the perfect setup for excitement and anticipation of what was to come. We popped out of the shuttle and unloaded in a light rain. We put everything on the front porch as the Indigo guidespulled up with their outgoing clients. After introductions and a brief exchange of stories with the outgoing clients, it was time to do search out some brews to pop in the fridge and find some dinner. The deli and market, both owned by the McDonoughs, are steps away from the house and have everything one would need from groceries to gifts.
We walked about a half mile down the main road around the harbor to the Shamrock, a local bar/restaurant known for its awesome taxidermy wall decorations, amazing food, and irish influence (in case the name didn’t tip you off). There we no complaints about dinner, as most of us were almost licking our plates. We put away a few drinks before walking back to the house to setup the tent (we were a day early so, with permission, we setup camp in the side yard of The Fisherman’s House) and continue the merriment. On our way back we were able to stop and take in a few of the sights and sounds BI had to offer.
Once we got back to the house, the tent went up quick and gear was put together to checkout. As the night rolled on and the beer cans piled, we caught up with Evan fromFeather-Craft and exchanged stories. Evan is a great guy, one of the nicest I’ve ever met. He is the brains behind organizing hosted trips and has been great friends with the gentlemen of Indigo for quite a few years. As you will later find out, like I said, Evan is a stand-up guy, through and through.
Mario and I had been chatting a bit with Dave Hosler aka @pilecast (on Instagram). We found out a day or two before we left for the trip that he and Andrew Bosway of Scientific Anglers were hauling Andrew’s Towee up to BI for a few days of DIY fishing. Mario and I headed back down to Shamrocks to meet Dave and Andrew. It was great to finally meet Dave after following him on IG for a year or two now and to meet Andrew. We threw some stories around and made plans to have the guys come over for our meet and greet dinner tomorrow night.
As the merriment settled down and the realization of us waking up early for a full day tomorrow settled in and it was time to hit the hay. What we had in store was a great breakfast at the deli and a full day of DIY flats fishing together on foot…a chilly night was ahead, good thing we had a little bit of alcohol in our blood and mummy bags to keep us warm.